Metro's Best of Silicon Valley 2002

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[whitespace] Editors Picks: Travels in Time, Space and Your Own Backyard

Giza Hookah Lounge
Night Light: Hahn Luong and Long Tran of Giza Hookah Lounge smoke out the world's best tobaccee.

Best Place to Pretend You Have a Harem

Giza Hookah Lounge
18 N. First St., San Jose 408.998.4622

This dapper, pillow-laden legal-puffing place perches subtly on North First Street near Santa Clara Street downtown. From 6pm to midnight (the witching hours), the "Smokin' GH" is definitely the coolest den of joint inhalation that can legitimately be enjoyed in the valley. Giza offers no alcohol or regular smoking. Non-Giza materials, such as cigars, pipes, Mary Jane, cigarettes or crack, are prohibited. Also, only people 18 and older are allowed. What Giza does supply is only the next best thing to flavored oxygen--a mixture of fruit pulp and molasses tobacco in such tempting varieties as sweet melon. Co-owners Hanh Luong and Long Tran import tobacco from the land of sphinxes and expert smoking (that would be Egypt). They also imported some of the lounge's groovy Egyptian décor, including a sarcophagus from a Hollywood set.

Best Place to Lunch in Timeless Isolation

O'Brien's Candy
San Jose Historical Museum, Kelley Park, 1650 Senter Rd., San Jose 408.287.2290

Weekdays, the perfectly preserved slice of 19th-century life that is the San Jose Historical Museum complex seems as deserted as outer space. The Empire Firehouse replica presides over wooden sidewalks, trolley tracks, a gazebo and other time-worn relics. Every board is intact, but all the people have vanished--gone to Mars like the inhabitants of a Twilight Zone episode. For the agoraphobic, this means that one can eat lunch in peace and quiet at O'Brien's Candy, a loving re-creation of Maurice O'Brien's sweets and soda business founded in 1868. Just like the buildings, the food hearkens back to another era: hot dogs ($2) and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ($2). Best of all, volunteer soda jerks pull sarsaparilla and vanilla Cokes the old-fashioned way: pumping splashes of syrup into the soda rather than just popping the top on the can. O'Brien's is open daily except Mondays; admission to the park is free on weekdays.

Best Place to Wallow in the Past

Ardenwood Historical Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont 510.796.0663

War on the horizon, bickering pols at home--what better time to indulge in some serious nostalgia? Just off the unending vehicular tumult that is Highway 880 lies Ardenwood Historical Farm, an oasis of simpler times past. The grounds of the old George Patterson estate feature the gingerbreaded Patterson mansion (fully restored and boasting docents in period costumes) and enough late-19th-century farm buildings and century-old orchards to keep the History Channel in programming for years to come. A working blacksmith's shop completes the time-travel experience, and the utterly urbanized can marvel at some good old-fashioned cows and goats. On special occasions, railroad enthusiasts fire up a working steam engine; it will be running for Halloween Oct. 18-20 and 25-27. The park is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-4pm, for a modest admission fee.

Tireless contributors to this year's editor's picks included Corinne Asturias, Michael Gant, Allie Gottlieb, Todd Inoue, Gary Singh, Sarah Quelland, Loren Stein and Gordon Young

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From the October 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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